By Julia M. Haried
How an aspiring CPA found inspiration in failure, persistence, and resilience.
Read the original article here.
“I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day. And I believe in miracles.”
A lot can be gained from Audrey Hepburn’s words. In the beginning of her career, people were sure she was destined for failure. She was too skinny, did not dance well, suffered from depression and malnutrition, and the list goes on. I don’t want to compare myself or the girls and women I work with at MakerGirl and the Big Four public accounting firm where I work to her, but I do see a powerful similarity between us all. In life and work, we must learn how to fail but not stop, how to persist, and how to be resilient in order to succeed.
Thus far in my career, I have failed and persisted and generated resilience. Women like me who have not been accepted into the colleges of their choice, who have received a sub-par work review, who have not been offered a promotion, who have stuck it out in an unpleasant and unsatisfying work assignment, who have failed CPA exams — but persevered — these are the ones who pave the way for an unknown but potentially bright future for women and girls.
One of the most recent failures that I’ve dealt with is the CPA exam. My strengths include my attention to detail, work ethic, easy demeanor, and ability to work with anyone and to work longer hours. My strength is definitely not test-taking. So, I have failed a few CPA exams. Failing these exams is not what people talk about around the water cooler; however, I have discovered that many people have failed. In fact, it seems as if these exams are designed for people to fail and to quit altogether. In my opinion, it is how the profession remains somewhat exclusive and maintains its stature in the business world. During these failures, my persistence and resilience have come in handy, because I have chosen every moment to continue despite wanting to stay in bed until it is all over.
I was raised to win and to succeed; however, it is very clear that it is my failures and not my successes that make me valuable to any company, board, friend, or family member. As individuals, we need to recover and carry on if we are to be represented in fields in which we have been held back, and we must actively work to close the wage and position gaps that we have with men. The resilient are the ones who pave the way for a brighter future for girls and women.
With hindsight, we can look at Audrey Hepburn’s career and say, “What an extraordinarily successful actress she was.” What gets lost in that are her persistence and resilience despite the failures and struggles in her life — things she also should be known for, including her powerful commitment to UNICEF and to the children of the world.
So, in reading Audrey Hepburn’s wonderful quote in the newspaper, I am inspired and commit myself to be the woman I want to be. Like Audrey, I believe tomorrow is another day, another opportunity to focus and work hard.
Subsequently, to you I say, don’t be afraid to fail, persist through the pain, and discover your resilience. I have. You can. And we can make a difference for the next generation of women in business.
Julia M. Haried is the co-founder and executive director of MakerGirl, an audit & assurance in-charge with Deloitte & Touche LLP, and a recipient of the Illinois CPA Society’s Women to Watch Emerging Leader Award.